Monday Funday

In Search of the Perfect Cast Iron Pan

By • May 28, 2012 • 128 Comments

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Food52's Editorial Assistant (and college student) Brette Warshaw is curating her very own first kitchen -- and she needs your help.

Today: Finding the right cast iron pan

Stacked Cast Iron

Buying a cast iron pan is like buying a first cell phone, or appointment book, or pair of glittery high heels: it makes you a little bit more adult.

I’ve got the cell phone, the appointment book, the glittery heels. That cast iron pan? Not there yet.

During my first three years of college -- while not a real adult, per se -- I avoided thinking about cast iron pans, about knives, about Dutch ovens: those culinary badges of honor, those hallmarks of seasoned cooks. I instead relied upon the cheap tools and kitchenware my roommates once bought for our “kitchen” (read: wall of kitchen appliances in the living room) and saved my major culinary projects for the kitchens of my parents, whose cookware collections were plentiful and familiar. Buying sturdy, expensive kitchenware for myself felt frivolous, unnecessary. I was too inexperienced. I was too young.

Until now.

Baby cast iron

Now, I’ve got cast iron pans on the mind, cutting boards and baking sheets, food processors, immersion blenders. (Is that weird? Probably.) I’m ready to cut my bread with a sharp, serrated knife; I’m ready to present dinner on a big, wide serving platter. It’s the summer before my final year of college, and I’m thinking about adulthood. I’m thinking about the real world. 

I’m thinking about my real world kitchen.

In curating this real world kitchen, I’ve made a vow to myself: I will choose all of my cookware intelligently. I will research every major purchase. I will ask for advice. I will make all of my kitchen investments worthwhile, so that in ten years I can look down at my cast iron pan -- or my knife, or my sauté pan, or my Dutch oven -- and remember the time I first used it.

And I will remember how you, dear FOOD52-ers, helped me.

Seasoning cast iron

I therefore bring you the series First Kitchen, where I will guide you through the curation of my first kitchen -- and ask for your help along the way. These posts aren't aimed just at college students. They’re for everyone who wants to make smart choices about their kitchenware -- for experienced cooks looking for a new tool, for novice cooks looking for their first, for a mother or father or friend looking for a thoughtful, useful gift.

My mother and father, though, won’t part with their cast iron pans -- kitchen tools that better with age, that can be passed down through generations. I’ve got to do the adult thing. I’m on my own.

So, naturally, I ask the most adult question one can ask: What’s the best pan to cook pancakes in?

Pancakes, along with more-wholesome eggs, greens, fish, and chicken, are the things I cook the most. A cast iron pan can be used for all of these, plus searing steak and other meats, shallow frying, baking bread, even baking cakes. It passes my first test: it’s worth buying. 

But I’m greedy; I want more. I don’t just want a pan that can cook them all. I want a pan that can cook them all...efficiently. Kindly. Perfectly. This is a long-term commitment. I have high standards.

le creuset cast iron

Bare, Pre-Seasoned or Enameled?

My major decision is what type of material to choose for my cast iron pan. If I base my selection on looks alone, it’s easy; I’d go for the Le Creuset Round Skillet. It’s got elegant, sloping sides and a surface so smooth I stroke it when nobody’s looking. The fact that it’s enameled makes it virtually maintenance-free; no seasoning, no difficult cleaning, little-to-no sticking. It’s also $154.95 – $99.95 for the 10 ¼-inch.

Bare cast iron

Bare cast iron, on the other hand -- the kind that most often gets handed down through generations -- is much less expensive: $16.99 for the classic unseasoned Lodge Logic 10” Chef Skillet. What bare cast iron lacks in looks -- though I still think it’s ruggedly handsome -- it makes up for in economy. The more you use a cast iron pan, the less maintenance it needs; since I’ll be using it often, it won’t take us long to settle in together. A good bare cast iron skillet can cook the same things as the enameled cast iron, though you shouldn't cook anything acidic -- anything with tomatoes, wine, or citrus, for instance -- in a pan that is not properly seasoned

Buying pre-seasoned cast iron is the other option -- $20.97 for the Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned 12-inch Skillet. Though there’s something romantic about seasoning my own. It’s the adult thing to do, right?

What kind of cast iron pan would you recommend? Check out my First Kitchen Pinterest board to follow along.

Next time, I’ll be covering knives -- and I could use your suggestions!

Email me at [email protected] with your First Kitchen recommendations -- your favorite tools, your favorite cookware, your favorite cookbooks. All wisdom is appreciated.

Salting cast iron

Tags: first kitchen, cast iron, cast iron pan, supplies, cookware, kitchenware, pans

Comments (128)

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2 months ago GregoryBPortland

So agree with you about Lodge cast iron. Mediocre--better to look for Wagner Ware or Griswold at flea markets. Far superior. Never heard of Findlay, and will now have to keep an eye out for it. Is Wagner Ware still being made today?

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2 months ago paseo

There is a website for American Culinary that sells Wagner. I have bought a round griddle and frying pan in the last few years- both are smooth, seem well cast and say on the reverse that they are made in the USA. I cannot spend time at flea mkts and am not a fan of ebay so this was where I went. I am happy with both. they were easy to season and have worked just like cast iron should.

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2 months ago May

If you can find one, an old Findlay cast iron pan has immaculately smooth inner walls, which stay very non-sticky once seasoned. A venerable Canadian company, sadly no more, but their pans live on. They sometimes show up on Ebay:
http://www.ebay.com/sch...
I loathe my new Lodge cast iron frying pan, because the surface is all bobbly. Yuck. Anyone want it, they can have it for the $ of shipping!

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2 months ago paseo

I am with you on the texture of Lodge - like pavement and it never will get smooth. My new Wagner is smooth (someone left an electric burner on the old, old one and it warped) -

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3 months ago CLG

What is the pan in the first picture?

And -- the Pinterest board doesn't seem to be up, or at least the link doesn't work.

Thanks

Chris_in_oslo

3 months ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

There are three pans in the first picture--the red Le Creuset round skillet, the Lodge 10-inch, and a carbon steel.

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3 months ago CLG

Thanks, it's the carbon steel I'm interested in. Guess I was looking at the 2nd picture. Brette, I hope you look into (and post about) carbon steel pans too.

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3 months ago GregoryBPortland

I've weighed in on this subject already, but one saute pan has me intrigued. The French carbon steel pans have been praised for their durability, heat conduction, and their ability to season over the years so they have a similar smoothness as cast iron. Anyone else have a 10 or 12-inch carbon steel pan with a long handle that wants to comment about their experiences with these French pans, please speak up.

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2 months ago Ginny

I think I have a carbon steel pan. A 10" skillet with a long handle. It's made by deBuyer from France. I love it. I got rid of my nonstick pans because I worried about chemicals. The pan is known as a mineral pan. It cooks as well as cast iron, but is thinner and much lighter. As I get older, the cast iron is too heaving to move around. The deBuyer is great. Once it's seasoned, it's nonstick. I just wipe it clean, dry it, and put a little oil on it.

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3 months ago jackie

My husband and his sister have been trying to locate a pan their Mom used....from Italy. It was a hinged, cast iron grill pan the size a chicken breast and veggies could fit into on one side. Maybe like a fritatta pan. Any help would be appreciated!

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2 months ago May

Jackie - hopefully you're still watching this discussion, as I just found one (aluminum, though) on Ebay, the fount of all things:
http://www.ebay.com/itm...

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over 1 year ago carol_tanenbaum

I'm not sure how come it took me so long to catch up with this, but for what it's worth, I have my great-great grandmother's cast iron frying pans. She died around 1934, so these pans are most likely 100 yrs old. And still going strong! Used one the other night. Makes great scrambled/fried eggs, or almost anything else you can think of. At this point, they don't need seasoning at all. At most, I rinse them with water, and put them over a hot flame on the stove to dry them -- the same way my mother and grandmother did. Treat your pans with love, cook well in them, and hand them down to many generations to come.

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over 1 year ago left bank

After writing my last note about all of the wonderful cast iron pans in our kitchen I forgot to say that the real workhorse for us is the fairly large Copco enamel lidded pot which we use for soups,
stews, and tomato based dishes like stuffed cabbage. I should also add that the Axford broilers are a must for us, for grilling sausage, toast, fish, etc. I want to repeat how terrific the cast iron loaf pans are for both yeast breads and quick breads. Chad Robertson in his outstanding TARTINE BREAD book describes his use of a dutch oven: a cast iron combo cooker consisting of a shallow frying pan and a deep pan which are used in conjunction with one another, either one serving as the lid for the other. He says that this simulates a professional baker's oven, combining a sealed moist chamber and a strong radiant heat.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Eric Stockton

I have 10" and 12" Lodge cast iron skillets that are used constantly. This last Christmas I received a 12" Calphalon tri-ply skillet. the cast iron get used constantly, and lives on my stove top. They may have had a rough texture when I got them, but over the years they've become glassy smooth. Nothing sticks, and I only add a touch of oil or cooking spray. I've been playing the the stainless skillet lately, and I think it all comes down to proper technique: always heat the pan first, add the oil, and cook. The stainless makes it easy to see the fond, and deglazing is a breeze. Also, it's light.

I also have a Lodge enameled 6qt dutch oven, as well as the grill pan and panini press. Mine have the old phenolic resin knobs, but they can be replaced for $7.95 each from Lodge (item # ECSSK). I've had both for a few years now, and while the enamel is a bit stained in the dutch oven, they work perfectly. Of all my pieces, the panini press gets the least use; maybe a few sandwiches a month. I wouldn't part with any of them.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Eric Stockton

I should mention that the replacement knobs are stainless, and are rated to 500F.

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over 1 year ago GregoryBPortland

My old Copco cast iron enamel ware is battered and their white insides have discolored over the years. But I wouldn't get rid of any of the pieces. The chicken fryer is excellent, as is the three-quart pot (makes great chocolate sauce). I have a Le Creuset brasier with a domed lid that makes the silkiest gravies after long braisings. I have three Dutch ovens from Copco, Mario Batali (poor quality enamel, by the way--chips easily), Le Creuset, etc. All are work horses in my kitchen, along with a Batali baking dish, which I think was created for lasagna. I don't have any Lodge ware. My cast iron pans are Griswald (what a beautiful patina these pots and pans have), which have become expensively collectible, and Wagner ware, which is also of excellent quality. A friend of mine recently passed on and I was offered his extensive collection of Griswald pots, pans, corn bread bakers, etc. But I don't' have room anymore but I would have loved cooking in them. I do find myself impatient with people who complain that good cookware is too heavy. They prefer those thin non-stick pans that burn easily. Not for me.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Eric Stockton

I grew up with cast iron. My mom has several pieces that belonged to her great grandmother; her mother wanted new fancy non-stick stuff for herself. I don't think my mom has ever reseasoned those pieces. I don't know where they were made, but I suspect there'll be a knife fight between me and my sisters to see who ends up with them when my mom passes (sometime in the distant future, I hope).

One of my sister's worked at Williams & Sonoma a few years ago, and she and my dad conspired to use her discount to purchase a big set of Le Creuset for my mom as a Christmas gift. She was over the moon, and she uses her stuff daily. There's nothing like quality cookware that has history, durability, and utility.

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over 1 year ago nakao

My first and most used lodge iron is the large reversible skillet that fits over two burners. Since then my interest in cast iron has become stronger and decided to share that love story: http://knakao.wordpress...

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almost 2 years ago left bank

A coincidence to find your cast iron concerns and all the comments when i have just been getting serious about cleaning up a few rusty ones (using recipes for cleaning which I find on line) and re-seasoning some and caring for them better by not using soap but simply a sponge and/or scotchbrite scrubber. We have eleven skillets and 3 dutch ovens and recently 2 Lodge loaf pans,
great for cornbread and other loaf breads.(Found one in a thrift store but only AFTER I bought one
new. Either way they are worth it.) All the rest are second hand except for one passed down from
my wife's great-grandmother, daughter of a civil war soldier. This one is the largest, deepest and
has the best surface of all of them. I use one skillet solely for ice when I am steaming the oven in making bread.

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almost 2 years ago susan g

Search Hotline (top right box) -- the topic of cleaning and reviving old cast iron has been discussed, and you'll get lots of input.
I am enjoying this conversation. I had no idea what a cult we are -- fans of cast iron!

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almost 2 years ago SpinachTiger

I have seven cast iron pans (old fashioned kind) that were given to me at various times. I use them ALL, all the time. I have the enameled dutch ovens for braising etc. but there is nothing like the old fashioned black cast iron pans. Easy maintenance, high heats for roasting chicken or baking pizza. Great to make pies in or start meat on top of stove and finish in oven. I have constructed an island where I can hand them at waist level. I wouldn't trade them for anything. You can't get better value or cooking. I use my all-clad when there's sauces involved, etc. As far as seasoning, a slow oven with some grapeseed oil or other high heat oil (not olive oil, ever) and you're good to go.

I have several sizes. I think you need them all. I also have a cast iron griddle that is priceless for pancakes and tortillas.

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almost 2 years ago Kumayama

After several decades of acquiring cookware my wife and i now have a fairly eclectic group to chose from--everything from Mauviel copper to AllClad Coppercore to long discontinued heavy guage MagPro and modern Calphlon anodized aluminum to commercial pans to both modern and antique, bare and enameled cast iron. By far my favorite for most uses are those that are cast iron with the Lodge 15" skillet my most favored of the favorites. That skillet gives lots of room to fry potatoes, multiple strips of bacon or a cut up chicken without crowding.

A couple of points I haven't seen mentioned yet is the ability to use bare cast iron on an outdoor grill, either gas or electric. You don't have to worry about the bottoms becoming scratched up if you have cast iron grates, but best of all you can move major frying tasks outdoors where the spatters and oily smoke can dissipate in the open air instead of within your kitchen. It can also be safer to do deep frying tasks oudoors. I've found the 15" to fit really well on our grills.

Unlike aluminum, copper and some stainless steel (e.g., older AllClad Coppercore), cast iron works beautifully on an induction burner.

Now one of the drawbacks of some of the courser cast iron pieces is that they can scratch the ceramic/glass tops found on many more modern electric stoves. This can also happen with an induction cook top. However this is easily prevented by using some sandpaper to smooth the contact surfaces. This is easy to do with some120 grit sandpaper used by hand or on a random orbit power sander . This takes but a few minutes and is much easier to do than some of the other maintenance tasks associated with cast iron. The random orbit sander can also work great to clean and smooth the floor of the skillet, though I've never found the texture of a Lodge product to pose any problem in use. Just wash thoroughly and reseason after sanding.

I'd also like to correct some miss information about where Lodge cast iron is made. While it is true that some Lodge accessories come from China (things like camp stove tongs), all the cast iron cookware is made in the Lodge factory in Tennessee. Now there are stores like Cabelas that sell Lodge cookware right along side their own line of China sourced cast iron cookware. They look very similar (especially some of the bakeware molds), so it's easy to mistake one for another. Now the Chinese cast iron may be equally functional, but I've always chosen Lodge instead.

For just starting out, I'd select a Lodge or other cast iron skillet around 10.5 inches, (iideally one with somewhat deeper sides-often called a chicken fryer) and one you could obtain a cast iron lid for. Then save up to follow this with a LeCreuset Dutch oven (though expensive, you'll come to appreciate the enamalled interior for this). The next purchase for me would be the big 15 inch Lodge skillet--I find it to be the most versatile piece of cookware I've owned. Indeed if I had to go off onto the world with only one piece of cookware, this would be it

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almost 2 years ago Kumayama

Can't find a means to edit comments so am using this "reply" to note I meant to write "outdoor grill, either gas or charcoal", not gas or electric.

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almost 2 years ago Nancy Purves Pollard


All of us at lacuisineus.com have used both cast iron, carbon steel and some enameled cast iron pieces throughout the last 4 decades, so here is our joint experience.

Lodge now makes a cast iron pan which is pre seasoned (and I was a doubter
about this) and it is a wonderful boon to those of us who are intimidated,
or annoyed at the process when you want take your pan from the shop and
have a grilled cheese sandwich. You have to keep up the seasoning,
though, (wipe it out, oil it from time to time etc.) But normally if you
are cooking with lard, butter, oil in your pan it seasons the pan too.

There is some confusion about thinking that carbon steel pans (and we are
writing a current A La Minute about that) are exactly the same as cast
iron. Most carbon steel pans will need to be seasoned by vous-self. We
think DeBuyer makes some of the best(check out their website, they have an
interesting seasoning video, which we included in our TLC section at
lacuisineus.com)Cast iron is exactly that: molten alloy and poured into
molds, Carbon steel an iron/carbon alloy that can be rolled out into
sheets. It heats up much more quickly than cast iron and I think is
better for stir fries, french fries, But for white hot heat and the
ability to stand up to it, cast iron is better i.e. Paul Prudhomme
blackened recipes.

Enameled cast iron for frying was a complete frustrating failure for all of us as
its enamel insulates instead of helping to sear. Plus, it always chipped
and then the very expensive investment had to be chucked.

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almost 2 years ago Cinnamon Cooper

Having always cooked with cast iron, and having written a book about doing so (The Everything Cast Iron Cookbook), I would highly suggest going the unenameled route for your first skillet. The enamel is pretty, however having a skillet with enamel on the inside will never season, and the seasoning is what will permit you to eventually cut very far back on using oil when you cook. I have a Lodge skillet I got in college 20 years ago, and a 90-year-old Wagner I got at a flea market. In it I can fry an egg with just a couple of drops of oil, have it slide out of the pan onto my plate, and "clean" the skillet with a paper towel. You'll never get that with an enameled pan which will always require lots of oil for frying tricky things.

And I've seasoned new Lodge skillets for friends and highly suggest getting an unseasoned skillet and seasoning it yourself. I've found the original seasoning to flake off. Feel free to send me an email if you want further instructions on how to season and cook your first few dishes to ensure a good starting base of seasoning. I wish you a lifelong relationship with your new skillet. Not matter what you choose, everything will taste better because you love the tools you use to cook with.

Kay_at_lake

almost 2 years ago Kayb

I have a 12-inch Lodge that was my grandmother's; it lives on top of my stove. I also have her 8-inch one, and a 12-x 4 Dutch oven/covered fryer that I used a great deal for braises, big stir-fries and so on. It came from a junk store, and I cleaned it off on my gas grill, leaving it for about 40 minutes on the grate, lid closed, all four burners wide open, then letting it cool and using the oil-salt method to scrub it clean. I have a 4-incher that I bought new, seasoned, and use to toast spices. The only other thing I'd like to have is a deeper and narrower Dutch oven four soups and stews, though the covered fryer works well enough for that.

I also have a Calphalon set of 10-inch and 12-inch saute/omelet pans I use a lot, particularly for things that are breaded or for pancakes, etc., just because they're easier to use.

Molly

almost 2 years ago Molly Redditt

I love this!! My twin sister and I are fresh out of school and are now working full-time. We're moving out in a month and a half, and while she's the expert maid in our twosome, I am the cook. I have been slowly adding to my kitchen collection over the last year or so, but there are so many of the big, important things I need--including a cast iron pan and a good set of knives! I'll be following your postings here and I can't wait to see what kind of advice people give you (and me, subsequently!)

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

So glad this will help you out, Molly! Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to see covered in the future.

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almost 2 years ago Leslie Bacon

I first began my collection of cast iron by buying used pans from a second hand shop in Paradise, California. That was in the 1970's --- I made a complete set by taking my brother in laws much used pans and buying him new ones... that was in the early 80's. I've used them ever since, and have shipped them to use in my kitchen in the south of France! I love them all --- and somehow, each pan carries with it all the meals it has ever cooked.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Wow! Sounds like a great collection. So glad that they have lasted you that long!

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almost 2 years ago witloof

I have the Le Creuset enameled cast iron and basically use it for tortillas. Everything else gets cooked in the Lodge skillets.

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almost 2 years ago JohnSkye

i have two 10 1/2" x 4 inch" (deep) chicken fryers, one wagner and one lodge ... both are fantastic though the wagner is MUCH lighter in weight, and i use them for everything from frying chicken to osso buco to stews to duck confit ... in "lodges" have an 8" (PERFECT for cornbread), a 10 1/2" chef's pan (PERFECT for a double recipe of cornbread!), 10 1/2" and 12" "regular" pans, a 10" grill pan, and a two burner two-sided grill ... all are perfect for their intended uses ... the lodges (those pre-seasoned, but new) started out "rough" but with proper seasonong and use quickly became as smooth as a baby's bottoms ... the ONLY advantage to the le cruset pans (if it is one, because, i too, like the rugged handsomeness of the "raw" pans) is their looks, but as as someone else mentioned, they do get discolored and are never as "non-stick" ... go with the lodge, or griswold or wagner if you can find them.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks JohnSkye. Can't wait to make cornbread in mine.

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almost 2 years ago Kringler

Awhile back I got into making homemade tortillas. A couple of the recipes warned that making tortillas in a cast iron skillet will destroy the seasoning. Yep. I cooked the tortillas in the Griswold I inherited from my grandmother, and it *destroyed* the seasoning just like the recipe said. I have never seen anything attack the seasoning like those tortillas. I had to season it again from scratch.

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almost 2 years ago Mendonoma

Just another note on cast iron pans......I've given up all pans except cast iron...both old fashioned and Le Creuset......they are all I use. I would like to mention though that if you are wanting to use one over real coals (like in a wood fired pizza oven/on an outdoor grill, using the old fashioned ones are the way to go....the Le Creuset finish would be destroyed by wood fire coals....a costly mistake. And I do use them in a wood fired pizza oven and outside on my grill. And, one of my favorites is my cast iron wok....it has so many uses. I got it years ago in Chinatown.

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almost 2 years ago Kringler

eBay bidding is fast and furious right this minute on a beautiful vintage Griswold 101/2 inch cast iron skillit. The bid stands at $31.01 with 25 minutes left in the auction. I think ebay is the way to go. I was lucky enough to inherit my cast iron pieces.

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almost 2 years ago Kringler

Update: the Griswold sold for $51.55.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I should start keeping my eye on those!

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almost 2 years ago Ordinary Blogger (Rivki Locker)

I have the basic Lodge cast iron pan in 4 sizes and use them NON-STOP. I can't wait for your feature story on Knives. I'm due for some new ones and look forward to your recommendations.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

So glad! Which size do you find yourself using the most?

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almost 2 years ago bugbitten

Well, Brette, welcome to cast iron philosophy 203. There are so many opinions, and so many are attached to the individual' chefs sense of beauty, history, and even family. I use the twelve inch Le Creuset, with the mystery cooking surface that is neither nonstick nor seasonable, like a raw iron pan would be. I think the surface is enamel, but I respect that that is a mystery, because that is how the French like life.

Please say that you are being paid for your work, as I think that having a paycheck, and having to think about what to do with one, is a vital educational moment. Best

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almost 2 years ago Laura415

As the owner of every cast iron pan and Dutch oven my friends and roommates ever gave away, I highly recommend waiting to find Wagner pans and rehabbing them. Unless the pan is broken or cracked or rusted through you can usually bring them back to perfection.
If you have a crusty pan and no self cleaning oven you can also put it in the fireplace or campfire overnight to burn that stuff off. Over hot coals and embers rather than flames. I finally did that after using them for years with a heavy crust on the edges and sides .
BTW love my Le Creuset Dou Feu too and am saving for a smaller version to make braises for one.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks Laura415! Seems like rehabbing pans is the way to go.

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almost 2 years ago sboulton

I have three Griswold frying pans and a Dutch Oven that I bought at an army surplus supply store about 40 years ago for a couple of bucks a piece, and they're still beautiful and almost the only pans I use even though I have all sorts of All-Clad stuff. I want to share a little story. Many years ago, LACMA here in LA had an exhibit of items found in a dig at Pompeii after Vesuvius over 2000 years ago. In the kitchen display, hanging on the wall, was an exact duplicate of my Griswold 12" cast iron pan, hole in the handle and spout on the side and all. It stopped me dead in my tracks and I realized just how perfect the design for these pans are that nothing has changed in 2000 years.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Wow. That is amazing.

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almost 2 years ago Mike Z

I'd steer away from the modern Lodge cast iron with their rough surfaces. Haunt flea markets, Goodwill, yard sales, or eBay and buy an old pan with a smooth finish. You can clean it for an initial seasoning in the oven, or with oven cleaner (what I did). Follow the Sheryl Canter steps and it will be seasoned enough to start cooking fatty foods (but not eggs, fish, etc. until it builds up a thicker layer).

I found that I can clean the pan while still hot using coarse salt; Morton's coarse seems to work best. Make sure you have 1/8" or more of oil in the pan, pour in a bunch of salt, wad up a small paper towel and grab with a pair of tongs, wipe/scrub until clean. Then rinse out the pan (or just wipe out the salt with a clean paper towel). If rinsing make sure you dry the pan thoroughly.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks, Mike Z! Great to know that cleaning it is so easy.

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almost 2 years ago Stefanie Samara Hamblen

All of my cast iron pans were found in a heap of rusty junk at different antique stores - the 6 inch (perfect for two fried eggs or a small cornbread for two) was in the best shape when I got it, just a little rust - the 10 inch is the most used pan in my house, it is the second 10 inch I had, somehow I broke the handle on the first one and no welder would fix it since it was the handle and they didn't want to risk the weld not holding. I also own a 12 inch that is great for casseroles. As an aside, the 10 inch I currently use is actually supposed to be decorative - there is a flat 3D picture of flying ducks over a lake on it - takes a little longer to heat up due to the extra amount of cast iron for decoration, but who cares - it was $3.00! My advice is to get a used one and give it love - it will respond to your touch!

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Laughing about the flying ducks image. Thanks for your advice!

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almost 2 years ago GregoryBPortland

I found my first Wagner Ware 12-inch cast iron skillet at a friend's mother's house. He didn't want it. It was crusted over with many years of use and looked disgusting. I brought it home, put it on the floo of my oven and cranked up the self-cleaning feature of my oven and the next morning that pan was like new. All the accumulated crud disintegrated. I re-seasoned the pan and it has been doing yeoman service ever since. My great aunt gave me her Wagner Ware 10 1/2-inch cast iron skillet. It had a silvery cast to the finish and a removable wood handle. It too was put in the oven for a thorough 'de-cruding.' I too use my 4-quart cast iron Dutch oven for making Jim Lahey's "no-knead bread,' I find the smaller size makes for a higher loaf since the dough doesn't spread out as widely as it does in the bigger Dutch oven recommended. I have a 10-inch square Griswold that has the most beautiful finish, and an 8-inch Griswold fry pan is that is perfect for eggs. My advice for anyone seeking these absolutely essential kitchen workhorses, is to haunt as many garage sales, flea markets, and resale shops to seek out these old pans. Griswold has become a darling of the collectors (a victim of the Martha Stewart collecting syndrome). But Wagner Ware is around just waiting for a smart home cook to snap up, an put back into regular use. By the way, I don't use heat to dry my pans, as my mother did--paper towels are just fine. And a quick soapy wash and rinse won't hurt the surface of a well-seasoned pan. Just make sure you dry it immediately. A plastic scratch pad or a plastic pot scraper are the only tools I used to remove any stubborn sticked-on foods. If you're using your pans regularly, a nice rub of vegetable oil with a paper towel until it is dry and leaves no residue is perfectly fine.

While I love my cast-iron enamel ware, it is more difficult to keep those surfaces that are not treated with some sort of non-stick finish, clean and unmarked. I use soft-scrub cleaners to keep them as pristine as new, but as they age, it's a losing battle. I'm glad I purchased my Le Creuset when I did. It is simply too expensive these days. You can often find good second-hand Le Creuset at garage and estate sales.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Great info -- thanks GregoryBPortland! Going to start hunting.

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almost 2 years ago JustAPinchofSouth

As a Southerner, we do indeed pass down our cast iron. But if you can't get an heirloom pan, then find one at a yard sale, estate sale or thrift store. Don't be afraid of even a little rust. Season it yourself. I rescued a pan up here in NYC about a year ago. Rusty and neglected it looked a little scary. After not too much TLC it now cooks like a dream. In my book, the older, the better.

Don't spend a lot of money on a fancy cast iron pan. Save that money for knives, where it matters.

http://justapinchofsouth...

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

My next post is on knives -- perfect!

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almost 2 years ago chickaroonie

I found three cast iron fry pans in GoodWill...actually the car ahead of me was donating them and I could not persuade the intake person to sell them immediately. So I went in and wondered the aisles looking for hidden treasure until they made it to the showroom floor- about an hr or so later. Bingo! In my cart and on to checkout.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Great story. It was fate!

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almost 2 years ago Meatballs&Milkshakes

I just picked up an Emerill cast iron grill pan ( I hate celebrity chef-endorsed products, but it's all Macy's had...) and so far I'm loving the cast iron. Also really like that there's no health risk from the non-stick coating on my previous grill pan.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks Meatballs&Milkshakes -- do you find yourself using your grill pan often?

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almost 2 years ago Fawnda C.

hm i may have to try out an iron at some point. I do love the "first kitchen" idea! I made my own first-items list for newbie cooks too but I can't wait to see how this series progresses. http://www.skinnyscoop...

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks for sharing, Fawnda C. -- so glad you like the idea.

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almost 2 years ago Kack

I have 3 Lodge pans (8", 10.5", 12"). I've experimented with cleaning them over the last year and settled on this process: Clean immediately after use when the pan is hot. No soap. I have a sponge with a scratchy surface that I reserve for these pans. Use hot water, scrub, and heat on the stove to dry. Occasionally re-season with oil. At first I re-seasoned with oil after each use and eventually found this unnecessary. Sometimes when I'm lazy, I reheat the pan after a meal and then clean it, but it's usually more work if I wait.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks so much! Which size do you feel you use the most?

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almost 2 years ago Zim

I have the lodge (seasoned it myself back when I was in college) and I have a le creuset I inherited from my mom (who bought it when she married my old man back in '61). Both are awesome, but I find myself going for the lodge more often than the le creuset. That could be a function of owning the lodge for ~20 years versus the le creuset for only 5.

cornbread from the lodge is incomparable.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Great to know -- thanks Zim!

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almost 2 years ago Shoshanadh

More on cast-iron here: http://www.heritageradionetwork...

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almost 2 years ago Shoshanadh

If you can find an old Wagner or Griswold, snap it up, it's a good value unless you're looking at certain prized vintage pieces. These foundries stopped production in 1957 and the production methods and iron composition changed. (If you live in NYC, swing by the Housing Works and Angel Street thrift shops on 17th Street where you'll often fine the odd piece stashed on a low shelf.) The newer pans are certainly fine but those older ones are really lovely and maintain their utility. The cooking surface is so smooth because they were polished with a finer grain sand than what is used now. Be sure that the pan sits flat and doesn't have cracks or warping. You can easily take care of rust and built-up cooking gunk by using one of the many cleaning and seasoning methods you'll find described by, say, The Pan Man (http://www.panman.com/) or here: http://sherylcanter.com... . This latter method is quite elaborate and I haven't tried it but it gives you a sense of how fanatic cast-iron devotees can be. I do use the recommended flax-seed oil for seasoning and it seems to be superior to other oils. Please keep us posted on your kitchen adventure! Stacey
PS. I love my Le Creuset and rue the day I gave away the set my mother gave me when I left for college.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Going to start my hunt for a Wagner or Griswold -- thank you!

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almost 2 years ago chef lew

I bought a 12" De Buyer Carbon Steel pan some time ago and it is a workhorse in the kitchen. It seasoned early and easily and to make sure it stays that way I baby it like a newborn. It is ugly now, but is efficient, stalwart and stick-free. Once I was sure it had seasoned thoroughly, I began using it for fried eggs, omelets, pancakes, searing fish chicken and steaks, as well as for simmering sauces. It is a good piece of workmanship.

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almost 2 years ago eggnation

I have a de buyer "mineral" pan, 99% iron. I second everything chef lew says, esp the part about babying it like a newborn. I waited a long time to face the prospect of seasoning it and the "new" pan, having sat around in a dark, cool room in our Pacific NW home, had some rust spots. I followed a you tube instructional video for removing rust spots/seasoning pans and now wish I'd never waited to use it! love, love, love this pan. My tendonitis does not love this pan, however. It is very heavy, but the metal is thinner than lodge and doesn't seem to take as long to heat up on lower temperatures . . .

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks chef lew and eggnation -- will definitely be talking about de buyer pans in the future.

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almost 2 years ago Ileana Morales | a little saffron

I'm a couple years out of college, building up a more grown-up kitchen with my boyfriend, who loves to cook with me. Go for the bare skillet that's cheaper. We bought one more than a year ago and use it all the time. It's very easy to season yourself. I love the rugged look, too.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks, ciaoleana!

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almost 2 years ago reedmollins

Cast Iron is all about the beauty of function, and the magic of durable goods. Living in a throwaway new-phone-every-year world disconnects us from the very conception of heirloom utility goods.

Flea markets, yard sales, salvation army--- the vast majority of the country thinks that their grandma's cast iron is ruined forever after they cooked with it once and left it in the sink to get rusty. Get a good old Wagner or Griswold, first forge American Iron --- Lodge is generally Chinese or Korean multiforged stuff.

Put them in oven on the 'cleaning cycle' resting on a firebrick, wait to cool, scrape with steel wool, and season like you just got it new.

I've got two 8' pans which i use for nearly everything, and a 6inch 3qt pot PERFECT for making french fries for two [my girlfriend appreciates the romance]

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Love that! Wagner or Griswold sounds like the way to go.

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almost 2 years ago Christina @ Christina's Cucina

One of my favorite kitchen tools is my Lodge Logic Cast Iron Dutch Oven. I use it practically every other day to make Jim Lahey's no-knead bread. I just wipe it out with a dry cloth after use; I love it! Btw, if you haven't tried his bread, it's the most amazing discovery I've made in years...http://christinascucina...

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks, ccincalif -- been wanting to try it for a while now!

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almost 2 years ago deanna1001

I was gifted with a 12" Le Creuset pan and loved it until the handle broke off. I have 6", 8", 10" Wagner pans; 10" old antique from Erie that I adore, and a new 12" Lodge preseasoned which is working very nicely. The two 10" pans get the most use. 6" is used mostly for toasting nuts (which keeps seasoning it.) The rough surface of the newer pans will smooth out quite a lot with time and seasoning. That said, I use a non-stick for eggs. My other most used pan is a Calphalon "everything" 12" pan (more like a shallow braiser) that I got on Amazon for about $20. It too needed seasoning but is virtually non-stick now and I love it for braises. OH, and finally, get glass lids for your pans! You won't regret it.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks so much, deanna1001! Great to know about the glass lids.

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almost 2 years ago Waverly

I have been pleased with my Lodge 12-inch pre-seasoned pan. At the same time that you are considering a cast iron skillet, you should also consider buying a steel wok which also needs seasoning. It is a kitchen work horse which like a great cast iron skillet, will last forever. I bought mine last year at Williams Sonoma and love it.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks, Waverly -- never even thought of that!

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almost 2 years ago Lauren's Plate

Having to set up a kitchen and seasoning to hand down for generations is the way to go....at least once. I love using my mother's passed down 6" cast iron fry pan and now I have a 10" seasoned one as well.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks, Lauren's Plate!

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almost 2 years ago ColoradoCook

Don't forget another great application of this column - the newly engaged/married! I certainly didn't have the funds to properly set up a kitchen before then, and boy could I have used the curated knowledge of this community when I was setting up a registry. I did literally hours of research, which is time you don't really have when planning a wedding!

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Such a great point! Thanks, ColoradoCook!

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almost 2 years ago wenike

I've just recently moved into my own place, and have yet to buy a cast iron pan. I was planning on shopping at the various thrift stores/goodwill/salvation army stores near me and see what I could get before I head for the Lodge. I'm lucky that there's a Le Creuset outlet near me, but prices there are not really discounted at all.

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almost 2 years ago eggnation

That's such a good idea; in theory . . .I always worry when shopping for even slightly porous items (or ones that will take a "coating," that kind of thing) that I will be cooking with or eating from, did the previous owner use it to collect used motor oil? to catch the lye/drain cleaner as they opened the clogged pipes to the toilet? This is almost certainly an eccentric worry of mine, and I should probably reconsider sharing the fact that I think about these things . . .

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almost 2 years ago wenike

Ahh, but the plan is to strip the current seasoning (and give it a good scrub at the same time) and then reseason it myself. Yes, I'll lose whatever lovely seasoning that is on there (if there is any), but its more likely to be more polished down than anything new that I could get.

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almost 2 years ago Isaboo

I "shopped" for my first cast iron skillets in my grandma's basement and they were just as you said-- bare and the kind passed on from generation to generation. For all the convenient shortcuts and quick fixes I used in cooking, I've come to really enjoy seasoning the skillets when I use them. Its cool knowing that my grandma did the same thing for years when she raised my mom and her siblings, like tapping into a bit of family history. So I say go bare or go home!

I do have a question for you, B*: Should you do anything different in seasoning the pans when you switch from savory to sweet dishes? Think greens sautéed in garlic to banana pancakes the next morning. Or seared steak followed by an an apple tart tatin...

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almost 2 years ago Bob Y

Despite what some cooks say, the Lodge pre-seasoned 10" skillet is one of my favorite pans, particularly for searing and browning. It makes terrific cornbread and it seasons itself (despite being pre-seasoned)as it quickly picks up your "personal" seasoning based on what you cook in it. I don't use mine for eggs or pancakes because its seasoning is rather black and meat-based. For a dutch oven, I would suggest the obvious - Le Creuset . I've had mine for 30 yrs and counting. I have noticed in some blogs I read the the Tramontina cast iron-enamel is an excellent pot and costs about 1/3 the cost of Crueset. What a good idea to crowd-source your kitchen

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks, Bob Y. Good to know about Tramontina -- never heard of it before this!

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almost 2 years ago Bob Y

Despite what some cooks say, the Lodge pre-seasoned 10" skillet is one of my favorite pans, particularly for searing and browning. It makes terrific cornbread and it seasons itself (despite being pre-seasoned)as it quickly picks up your "personal" seasoning based on what you cook in it. I don't use mine for eggs or pancakes because its seasoning is rather black and meat-based. For a dutch oven, I would suggest the obvious - Le Creuset . I've had mine for 30 yrs and counting. I have noticed in some blogs I read the the Tramontina cast iron-enamel is an excellent pot and costs about 1/3 the cost of Crueset. What a good idea to crowd-source your kitchen

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almost 2 years ago Louisa

I have an 8" enameled skillet and my great-aunt's 10" cast iron skillet, which gets heavy use. For anything bigger I use an enameled Dutch oven. Both skillets work great and seem almost nonstick.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks, Louisa!

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almost 2 years ago bcarson

If you don't want to go treasure hunting for a perfectly seasoned used pan, my vote is for the pre-seasoned. It just offers a kickstart. You'll still need to do some of the ritual of seasoning it yourself but you also get to start using it right away. For what it's worth, I love cast iron so much that this topic finally motivated me to stop lurking on the site and actually sign in. My 6" and 12" pre-seasoned Lodge pans, along with a Le Creuset grill pan, are used more than anything else in my kitchen.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

So glad that you were motivated to sign in!! Made my day.

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almost 2 years ago MrsMehitabel

I may be in the minority here, but I cannot figure out why anyone buys Lodge. It is the texture of a sidewalk! I thought the point of cast iron was its nonstick quality. I can't imagine that they get too much smoother over time- I bought a griddle from them when I was twelve and didn't know any better, and it hasn't gotten any better with age or use. I finally just sort of gave up on it.
I would recommend checking out one of those "antique" stores, with all the different sellers- I've seen some really nice cast iron pans in those places. My cast iron skillet (8") was given to my husband by his great grandfather before we were married. I use it every day, and the surface is glassy smooth- I can make a batch of crepes in it with no problem, and only a tiny bit of butter added right at first.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks MrsMehitabel! Definitely got to check out antique stores.

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almost 2 years ago The Hungry Hutch

I've been out of college for three years now (*gasp*) and am still working on gathering items for my "first" kitchen. I too romanticize seasoning my own cast iron pan, so I'd go with the unseasoned.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Hopefully, this column will help you out, too! Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like covered.

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almost 2 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I have four Lodge preaseasoned pans that I love - 6", 8", 12" and a whopper - 24" - that is huge and heavy and can handle a whole cut up rabbit or chicken while giving a decent upper body workout. The 8" is my cornbread pan (among other things) but in general I mostly use the 12". I wash gently with soap and water (I am a soap fan) then dry on the stove and re-oil each time.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Whoa -- 24"! I'm impressed. Good to know that you re-oil each time. Thanks, aargersi!

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almost 2 years ago Raya Nelly

Hi Brette!

I am a rising college senior and also thinking about my first real kitchen. Thank you for this awesome column...I will be watching it closely.
GREAT first post.

-- Raya

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks so much, Raya! So happy you'll be following along. Do you have anything that you'd specifically like to see discussed in the column?

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almost 2 years ago weshook

I mainly use a 6" plain old unseasoned and the 10" also unseasoned. I do have a dutch oven that I rarely use. The 6" is perfect for frying up a couple eggs, and I used to have an 8" that I fried tacos in every week (I think it's in the camping gear) until it was pushed aside for the 10" since it could fry more tacos at a time. And by the way, frying tacos in it for years and years is the easiest and best way of seasoning it. The dutch oven i mainly use for baking bread--those artisanal loaves that you heat the dutch oven in the oven until smoking hot and drop the dough in for that super crust. the preseasoned pans always seem to need more seasoning in my experience.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks, weshook! Frying tacos sounds like a great way to wear in the pans.

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almost 2 years ago susan g

Census: 6" -- 2; 8" -- 2; 10" -- 2. Anything larger is too heavy. 6" was my mother's blintz pan, good for small amounts of anything, grilled cheese... 8" most vegetable sautes, lazy omelets... 10" pancakes, french toast, whatever fits. 2 have wooden handles and covers (same issue as already mentioned). All of them are in constant use, along with the 8" enameled one. They stay on top of the stove -- too heavy to keep shuffling around. Maintenance is simple -- usually let them go under running water and wipe any particles or dried sauces away. After years of use they seldom even need to be dried off -- water beads up and evaporates.
I do have some black cast iron sauce pans and dutch ovens too, but I don't use them. Stainless is more appropriate and practical. I used to have a cast iron popover pan, which I miss -- how did it disappear?

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Sounds like quite the cache. Thanks, susan g!

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almost 2 years ago paseo

I have plain plain cast iron made by Wagner ware in different sizes which I use almost daily. I prefer Wagner over Lodge because it has a milled (smooth) interior. Some is really old, but some is recent in the last five years or so. I haven't found it at a retail store in years but it is available online at americanculinary.com. Different size frying pans and an indispensable handled griddle. It's still made in the US. I found it very easy to season and maintain.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Great to know. Thanks, paseo!

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almost 2 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

If you're intent on have plain cast iron in your life for the long haul, my suggestion would be to pick up on a few subtle comments here--and head over to eBay for some thing older, like Griswold, made in Erie, PA. It's so much smoother and nicer than what you can get new.

Or just maybe, if I were you, I'd get that pretty and new piece of Le Creuset and prepare myself to wait out my parents. Unless you have sibling competition, time is on your side.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

That's a great idea, Greenstuff. And I'm the oldest sibling, so hopefully I'd get first dibs :)

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almost 2 years ago pele

My first cast iron skillet was marked - Made in Erie, Pennsylvania, which was my roommates home town. When it came time to part, she asked me if she could have it. It obviously meant a lot more to her, so it is hers now.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Lovely story. Thanks for sharing, pele!

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almost 2 years ago Summer of Eggplant

We have both, a 10" enameled and a 12" traditional cast iron one. We use them both equally. I find we use the enameled one for pancakes, sauces and vegetables and the traditional one is mainly used for steaks, frying fish, searing chicken, breakfast potatoes and tortilla espanola. I'm not very good at keeping the soap away from pots and pans so I sort of need the enameled variety. I am in the market for a 6" one and I can't seem to make my mind up on this very topic which is why I haven't purchased it yet. We also have a Lodge double burner griddle/grill that is awesome.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Hopefully this can help you make up your mind on your 6"! And great to know about the griddle/grill.

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Great idea for a column, Brette! I'd definitely recommend an unseasoned Lodge skillet. As others have mentioned, the ritual of seasoning the pan yourself is worthwhile. If you're going to own just one, I'd recommend the 10" size. There are times when I wish I had a 12" one, but the 10" serves me fine the majority of times and it's a little easier to store.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks so much, EmilyC! You have a great point -- storage is key.

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almost 2 years ago dymnyno

I have Le Creuset dutch ovens in 3 sizes and a couple of frying pans. I inherited my mother's basic cast iron dutch oven and a large frying pan (which weighs a ton). I have a couple others that I bought at Goodwill...it seems they have a constant supply and they are really cheap! And I also have a huge dutch oven with little legs for camping. The top is designed so you can put coals on it.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Great to know -- thanks dymnyno!

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I'm curious which size pan people have found most useful -- or is there a spectrum of sizes you favor?

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almost 2 years ago jbban

I think mine are a 9" and a 12". Because I'm usually only cooking for one, I tend to prefer the smaller pan. The larger one also has the disadvantage of a wooden handle, meaning I can't throw it in the oven to finish a frittata (or whatever). The wooden handle does feel nice, however, and it doesn't heat up.

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almost 2 years ago pamire

My larger pan (10" I think) has a wooden handle that can actually be unscrewed if I want to put the pan in the over. The other option would be to cover the wood with aluminum foil.

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almost 2 years ago susan g

My first cast iron skillet came from a hardware store (that's where you bought them then), in my first year on my own. I missed the cast iron in my mother's kitchen. It was just the basic and still in use almost 50 years later -- with an identical twin and lots of close siblings. There is also one enameled cast iron with a black interior, also in constant use, but I don't consider it to be 'real' cast iron. And yes, season your own. Both you and the pan(s) need to go through that initial ritual.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Love that story. Hopefully my collection will grow throughout the years, too!

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almost 2 years ago bonbonmarie

I almost forgot, I also have a le Creuset! I don't really consider it in the same class, since the enamel finish is so different from a seasoned pan. It is nice to cook with, but I prefer the old, seasoned cast iron experience better.

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almost 2 years ago bonbonmarie

I am there with you, jbban. I have 3 cast iron pans, 6", 8 " and 10", and all have been purchased second hand. Sometimes you have to work on the seasoning, but it's easy and worth it--the old ones have such a fine, smooth finish. New casting methods leave a nubbier finish which I don't prefer. Two of mine are marked, one O'Brien, and another Griswold. The good old ones aren't necessarily cheap. I found the 10" Griswold at a flea market in NY and made my dear husband haul it around in his bag for another two weeks (he offered, and has since proudly dubbed himself my "pack animal"). Anything for a good pan!

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Ha! Love that. Gotta get myself a pack animal.

Jillian

almost 2 years ago jbban

Although Le Creuset is certainly beautiful and requires less maintenance, I'd go with the traditional, unseasoned cast iron. I bought my two cast iron pans from an antique store and they were pretty much already seasoned for use. I cook everything in them, aside from acidic foods, and they require very little maintenance. I think their ruggedness and story ("I bought them for a steal at this little, out-of-the-way antique store...") make them even lovelier than the easy beauty of Le Creuset.

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almost 2 years ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Thanks for this, jbban!